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Russia’s Last appeal to US Voters: Russia has no intention of interfering in America’s Presidential Elections

The hope is that Trump will continue to "sow chaos" in the U.S. political system, distracting Washington elites while Moscow defends its own interests

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FILE - A woman wears a shirt reading "Trump Putin '16" while waiting for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to speak at a campaign event at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, N.H., Feb. 7, 2016. VOA

Moscow, November 8, 2016: As the U.S. presidential campaign winds down to its final hours, Kremlin presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov issued Russia’s own last appeal to US voters: Russia has no intention of interfering in America’s elections.

Never mind White House charges of Kremlin hacking of Democratic Party computers. Never mind the Wikileaks release of Clinton campaign emails that US intelligence says come from Russia’s secret services. And never mind a relentlessly partisan Russian state media campaign that has promoted one candidate over another – both at home and abroad.

In a year where Russia has taken center stage role in America’s elections, the Kremlin spokesman dismissed interest in any possible Russian subterfuge as simply “absurd.”

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“[The Americans] have enough problems without us,” said Peskov.

Welcome to the next phase of the Kremlin’s take on America’s elections:

Whoever the victor, the outcome will show how broken and corrupt the American democracy has become.

And the Kremlin is preparing.

In the run up to election day, Russian state television is warning of ‘dead souls’ rising from the grave to vote (for Clinton); ‘carousel’ voting in the inner cities (for Clinton), decrepit American election infrastructure prone to manipulation (by Clinton); and suggesting the will of American voters (for Trump) will be subverted by the U.S. electoral college delegates (for Clinton).

Dmitry Kiselev, anchor of the weekly Vesti Nedeli (News of the Week), whose nationally televised program has pushed conspiracies surrounding the American vote for months, predicted nothing short of a stolen election (by Clinton).

“After these elections, the U.S. may find its addressing itself with the same phrase that it awards others: that the U.S. elections were not transparent, were conducted without real competition, and included mass falsifications and government abuse.”

“They cannot” concluded Kiselev, “be considered free or democratic.”

The message, says Vladimir Frolov, a foreign policy analyst and columnist with The Moscow Times, is clear.

“The intent is to discredit the system,” he told VOA. “So-called American democracy stinks. It’s a circus and nothing to envy,” said Frolov.

FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting in the Kremlin, in Moscow, Russia, July 26, 2016. VOA
FILE – Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting in the Kremlin, in Moscow, Russia, July 26, 2016. VOA

Kremlin favorite?

Even to casual Russia observers, the Kremlin’s passive preference for a Donald Trump presidency has been apparent, if not understandable, throughout the election season.

Trump’s positions on key issues of the day – from Syria, to Ukraine, to NATO’s expansion into Eastern Europe – dovetail with Russia’s own declared interests. Clinton campaign charges that Trump is colluding with the Russian authorities notwithstanding, FBI-led investigations into the issue have found no proof.

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That, said Frolov, makes little difference from the Kremlin’s point of view. “What’s not to like?” he asked.

By contrast, state media has relentlessly embraced far-ranging conspiracies surrounding Hillary Clinton’s campaign: Mrs. Clinton is sick and ailing; she is corrupt and facing certain indictment or prison; and she is beholden to nefarious dark forces, including radical terrorist groups.

Most importantly, Clinton is portrayed as virulently anti-Russian.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s antipathy to the Democratic Party nominee, in particular, is well known. In 2011, he accused Clinton, then U.S. Secretary of State, of “giving the signal” to thousands of Russians who protested rigged elections during the country’s parliamentary elections.

Polls reflect the pileup of negative coverage since.

Over a third of Russians believe a Trump presidency will bring an improvement in relations. By contrast, a majority think U.S.-Russian relations – already deeply troubled – will suffer more under a future Clinton administration. A separate poll showed nearly half of Russians think a direct war between the U.S. and Russia likely.

Amid the growing Russia controversy this election season, Putin denounced candidates playing “the Russia card.” Moscow, said Putin, was willing to work with either Trump or Clinton — provided the new occupant in the White House meets Russian interests halfway.

But Konstantin von Eggart, a long time analyst and host of the independent TV Rain channel’s coverage of the U.S. elections, says he finds the Kremlin’s overt tilt towards Donald Trump “bizarre.”

“I think Russia’s policy is a big blunder,” says von Eggart. “Even in the Soviet days the Politburo wasn’t influencing in the U.S. elections because they knew they’d have to work with whoever was the next American president.»

Yet von Eggart predicts the Kremlin will double down in the event of a Clinton win on November 8th. “They’ll blow out of proportion any irregularities to say the Trump was denied victory.”

The hope, he adds, is that Trump will continue to “sow chaos” in the U.S. political system, distracting Washington elites while Moscow defends its own interests.

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Meanwhile, foreign policy analyst Frolov argues the Kremlin’s focus on undermining the current U.S. campaign is merely “a shot across the bow” ahead of Russia’s own presidential elections – scheduled for 2018.

Vladimir Putin, in and out of power since 1999, has yet to declare himself a candidate. But Frolov suggested a future memo to Washington regarding the election day 2018 was already being drafted:

The message: “Who are you to judge?” (VOA)

Next Story

Economy to Overcome Other Issues in 2020, says Trump

President Donald Trump is hoping that simple message in 2020 will help foil his eventual Democratic Party challenger. 

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President Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump attends a Keep America Great Rally at the Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, U.S. VOA

“It’s the economy, stupid” has been a catchphrase of U.S. presidential politics since the 1992 campaign, when Bill Clinton unseated incumbent George H.W. Bush. Nearly three decades later, U.S. President Donald Trump is hoping that simple message in 2020 will help foil his eventual Democratic Party challenger.

Trump — in tweets, at political rallies and in remarks to reporters — constantly emphasizes the performance of the U.S. economy, stock market surges, low unemployment rates and his tax cuts to boast he is doing a great job as president.

Economists and political analysts are divided on whether that message will enable the incumbent to stay in office beyond January 2021.

Culture war, partisan split

Ever since Clinton, “we’ve all kind of assumed that should be true. And I think for the most part, it is,” said Ryan McMaken, senior editor and economist at the Mises Institute, a politics and economics research group in Alabama. He cautioned, though, that Trump finds himself on one side of a culture war that his predecessors did not have to confront, as well as a deep partisan divide on consumer confidence.

Walmart Supercentre
Balo Balogun labels items in preparation for a holiday sale at a Walmart Supercenter, in Las Vegas. Black Friday once again kicks off the start of the holiday shopping season. But it will be the shortest season since 2013 because of Thanksgiving falling on the fourth Thursday in November, the latest possible date it can be. VOA

Policy analyst James Pethokoukis at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, a public policy research group, also is cautious about the economy prevailing over all other issues.

“Just having a strong economy is not going to guarantee you re-election,” he said. “People often point back to the 2000 election, which occurred after a decade of tremendous economic growth any way you want to measure it — gross domestic product, jobs and wage growth. And yet, [Clinton’s vice president] Al Gore still lost that election to George W. Bush.”

McMaken questioned whether voters in key swing states — such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio — who cast ballots for Trump in 2016 were experiencing enough of the touted economic performance to vote again for the president.

Overall, however, “it’s not a bad economy to run on if you’re Donald Trump,” said Pethokoukis.

Trump, said to have concerns about the direction of the economy ahead of next November’s election, will likely push for more tax cuts, passage of a renegotiated North American trade pact and continued pressure on the country’s central banking system, the Federal Reserve, to lower interest rates.

A LB Steel LLC's employee manufactures a component
A LB Steel LLC’s employee manufactures a component for new Amtrak Acela trains built in partnership with Alstom in Harvey, Illinois, U.S. VOA

Trouble ahead?

There are rumblings of economic storm clouds on the horizon. The impact can be seen in Trump’s trade war with China, which has hurt U.S. farmers and raised prices for consumer goods. It’s also reflected in the Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing Index, an underperforming U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index and a ballooning record national debt, in addition to the worrying level of money owed to creditors by middle-class Americans.

“We’ve actually been in a sort of a manufacturing recession, seen a shrinkage of factory jobs, the exact kinds of jobs that I’m sure that people voting for the president thought would be a lot better now,” said Pethokoukis.

So far, none of this has prompted a major stock market correction.

“There seems to be a lot of adaptations in the markets to Trump’s America. That may work to his advantage,” said the Mises Institute’s McMaken.

Analysts note a lack of emphasis on economic platforms so far by the leading Democratic U.S. presidential candidates seeking to oust Trump next year.

But such a platform is likely to be touted when the opposition party holds its convention next July in Milwaukee and picks its campaign ticket. Pethokoukis suggested the Democratic Party should devise a plan with a goal to boost American worker productivity, which has flatlined for years.

The great divide

McMaken pointed out that the widening chasm between the well-off and those struggling economically in the United States makes Trump vulnerable — something emphasized by left-leaning Democratic presidential contenders such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Donald Trump says the economy isn't doing well
Tents and tarps erected by homeless people are shown along sidewalks and streets in the skid row area of downtown Los Angeles, California, U.S. VOA

“On the ground level, I would say just in general, the economy isn’t doing as well,” concluded McMaken.

ALSO READ: Greed For Power May Demolish The Democracy

Amid an impeachment drive by the Democrats, Trump is repeatedly hammering on a specific message to those questioning his suitability for office while being impressed with the performance of their pension accounts during his presidency.

“Love me or hate me, you’ve got to vote for me,” Trump said at a rally in New Hampshire in August, warning that Americans’ investments portfolios would go “down the tubes” if he lost next year’s election. (VOA)